STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Another energy company is under fire today — BP. The British oil giant could be hit with manslaughter charges in a rig explosion that killed 11 workers in the Gulf of Mexico last year. The disaster caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history. And if the charges stick, there could be big ramifications.
Justin Blum is a reporter from Bloomberg, which reported the BP case today. Good morning.
JUSTIN BLUM: Good morning.
CHIOTAKIS: What affect would manslaughter charges have on BP?
BLUM: Well, if employees of BP who served as managers of the well that ultimately exploded get charged with manslaughter, they could face jail time for each count up to ten years.
CHIOTAKIS: And we’re talking — what? — 11 people were killed right on that rig?
BLUM: That’s right.
CHIOTAKIS: What about other companies? Would these charges change the business is done? Would they try to indemnify themselves?
BLUM: Well, what’s unusual about this is that federal prosecutors typically don’t prosecute employees of large corporations, particularly lower level employees. So, if in fact the justice department moves forward with prosecuting them, some legal analysts think that this could in fact send a message to employees of other companies that they could be held accountable.
CHIOTAKIS: Now I know we have this $20 billion fund that BP and the Federal government agreed to last year. BP’s already paying some of this out to businesses and to people in the Gulf area. Would manslaughter charges open the company up to more lawsuits?
BLUM: Well, yeah, that’s totally separate from what the Justice Department is now investigating. The Justice Department has a criminal and civil investigation going on that some legal analysts say could ultimately result in penalties to BP and the other companies involved of more than $1 billion.
CHIOTAKIS: All right. Justin Blum reporter for Bloomberg in Washington. Justin thanks.
BLUM: Thank you.